Before discussing how to start a business support service let’s brush up the fundamentals.
What Are Business Support Services?
Business support services are ancillary services required for the smooth conduct of business. Think of them like secretarial or low-key technical services.
Hiring full-time employees for such business support services can be costly. Therefore, companies tend to outsource these to business support firms.
Setting up a business support service requires low capital investment & therefore is devoid of any substantial risk.
As you must be aware, business support is a huge industry in itself. As per a statistics, this industry staffs close to around a million people.
To sum up, starting a business support service can be a smart startup decision.
Types Of Business Support Services
Business support services can of various types like:
- Secretarial services
- Administrative support services
- Office support services
- Business auxiliary services
- Business ancillary services
Truth be told, there are no clear “types” of business support services. Generally, business support services are referred to by the aforesaid alternative names. In crux, they all mean the same.
List & Examples Of Business Support Services
There are numerous kinds of business support services like:
- Data entry
- Basic book-keeping (recording transactions)
- Generating & sending invoices
- Attending phone calls & routing
- Office routine work like photocopying, lamination, fax & letters.
- Legal support work like notary & contracts
- Presentation & spreadsheet designs
- Scheduling & managing meetings
With the ever-expanding scope of business support, you never know what’s the next big thing that will get added to this list.
Support Services For Small Businesses
Let me first clear this myth first. Business support services are not solely for big organizations.
In fact, small businesses need them more. Why?. Because they are ones that don’t have the luxury of time & resource to hire full-time employees. Yes, they rightly so focus mainly on their core operations.
Therefore, as a start-up business support firm, you should primarily be focusing on small businesses. Of course, once your business scales up, you can target the big ones.
Now, let’s dive in & explore the steps required to start up a business support service.
HOW TO START A BUSINESS SUPPORT SERVICE (A COMPLETE GUIDE)
Step #1. Register Your Business
At the outset, you need to register your business as per the requirements of your country or state laws.
In the US, if you do business in your own legal name then you don’t need to register at all. But for various legal & tax benefits, it is highly recommended that you register your business separately.
For example: If your name is John Smith then register your business as ‘JS & Co.’ or ‘John Smith & Co.’
Now, you can register a business (in the US) in various ways like:
- Forming an LLC (Limited liability company) (Not recommended)
- Registering business name with your state (Recommended)
- Trademarking your business name (Recommended but optional)
- Getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN) (Recommended but optional)
At the start, it’s not recommended to form an LLC. Once you have a solid client base, then you may think about it.
Registering a business requires professional help & assistance. I prefer & recommend Incorporate.com to all my clients. They have helped thousands of businesses to start up in a legal & hassle-free way.
Step #2. Get A Business Bank Account
Once you have aforesaid legal formalities done, you can proceed to apply for a business bank account.
To apply for a business bank account, you will need:
- Business registration document
- Employer identification number or Social security number
- Lease agreement or ownership agreement
A business bank account is preferred over a personal bank account because of various advantages like:
- Legal requirements to separate business transactions from personal ones
- Ability to draw credit as & when required
- Professional outlook
You need to assess & select the best bank based on factors like:
- Customer-friendly features
- Interest rates for LC or credit
- Transaction fees
- Minimum balance requirements
- Technology support etc.
Once your business bank account is approved, you are ready to receive your client money.
Step #3. Set Up Your Website
Gone are the days of cold calling. Now, you can get clients simply by having a web presence (I will talk more about this in Step #5).
Therefore, you need a business website.
No, don’t worry. You don’t need to hire an agency or coder to build one for you. With drag-and-drop & code-free builders like Wix, you can set up a professional website within a few minutes.
But, before proceeding with Wix, make sure you keep the following handy:
- Domain name (like xyz.com)
- Logo (Use a tool like Canva to make one)
Preferably your business name should be your domain name.
Further down this post, I will talk about how to use your website to generate client leads.
Step #4. Rent An Office Space & Buy Office Equipment
Frankly speaking, during the initial days, you don’t need an office. If you’re short on budget, then start from your garage itself.
Or else, you can always opt for a co-working space like Regus.
As far as office equipment are concerned, you don’t have an option. Business support services require a minimum of a few office devices like:
- Printer & photocopy machine
- Spiral binding machine
You can use Autonomous to buy smart office equipment at reasonable prices.
Step #5. Market Your Services & Get Your First Client
This is the most important step. Nothing works until unless you have your first client.
Having your first paying client will boost your confidence & open a door of opportunity for your new business. Hence, set aside all the big goals you may have & focus on only one achievable target: Your First Client. Trust me, everything else will find its place on its own.
Now, to get your first customer, you need to market your services. How to do that?. Let me explain.
Following are some easy & cost-effective marketing hacks to get started:
You may use a simple Google form to ask for referrals from your contacts like friends or relatives. Send mass email to them with the form attached to it. If needed, personally follow up with each one of them.
In the email body, write about your business support services & your authority. Don’t forget to offer a referral incentive to the referrer (mention the same clearly in the body).
To make your pitch more attractive, offer a massive discount for your first customer. Also, do not forget to add a link to your website.
A word of caution: Do not sound too excited.
Go through the yellow page listings & cold call some of them. Chances are there that a few of those local businesses will be looking for business support services.
Alternatively, you may try to find a few local businesses & contact them using Google search.
Go to each of those companies websites & contact them using the contact form.
A word of caution: The aforesaid list is just an example. As already explained, you should ideally be targeting only small businesses during the initial phase.
This is one of my favorite modes to generate leads.
Online forums Quora can help you generate a ton of quality leads. All you need to do here is answer questions related to business support & link your website in the answers.
To succeed at forums, it’s important to add immense value through your answers. Hence, the answers should be such that they help you to establish as an authority in the business support industry. Such authority will help build trust in the minds of the readers. And, that trust will drive clicks to your website.
Once on your website, the readers will look forward to contacting you. Therefore, get your contact page designed as a landing page.
Business Networking Events
Business events are emerging as a reliable medium to network & nurture relationship with prospects. All you need to do here is to attend as many such events as possible & try to reach out to business owners.
While reaching out to prospects, make sure to:
- Hand over your business card
- Talk confidently & like a subject expert
- Showcase your experience
- Ask for the prospect’s business card
It’s important to stay in touch with the prospects you met during the events.
You may explore BNI (Business Network International), the world’s largest business networking organization.
This strategy is all about reaching out to other relevant businesses & entering into a partnership for mutual benefit.
Example: Reach out to a website design agency & tie up for client referral. If a business needs a website that means either they are starting out or expanding. Either way, they would need business support services. In return, you can refer your clients to the website design agency if they inquire for website design.
Yes, it’s that simple & works great.
No, you don’t need a big budget for this. With Facebook Ads, you can start with as little as $5 a day.
Here is a video that will help you to set up for first facebook ad:
Make sure that your website landing is designed effectively for conversion.
A word of caution: As per my experience, direct ads don’t work that well. Instead, offer a lead magnet , collect email addresses & then target your prospects using an email campaign.
Alternatively, you can try Google Adwords. This is all about buying a keyword relevant to business support.
Example: If you buy the keyword “business support in Chicago” & if someone searches for that term then your website should show up at the top of the search result.
Generally, Google ads are relatively costlier than Facebook ads.
Step #6. Get More Clients & Turn Profitable
As you serve the first client, start looking for more customers by using the aforesaid marketing mediums.
Simultaneously, you should also be focusing on making your service business profitable. And, yes, that’s what is the ultimate aim of any for-profit business.
Here is the formula to check if your business is profitable:
Sales per month – (Fixed +Variable expenses per month) > 0 = Profitable
Sales per month – (Fixed + Variable expenses per month) < 0 = Not profitable
Fixed expenses are expenses that are fixed irrespective of the level of sales. Example: Office rent
Whereas variable expenses are the expenses that fluctuate base the sales or operation activities. Example: Printer ink
Step #7. Hire Employees & Scale Up
It won’t be possible for you to serve an increasing number of clients on your own. Therefore, at this point, you should be looking to hire an employee.
Once done with hiring, you should look forward to scaling up.
There are a variety of ways to scale up like:
- More service offerings
- Setting up a new branch or location
- Increase in the quality of clients etc.
Scaling up is a tricky part of a business. I say that because if you try to scale up too fast, you may risk losing money. Whereas, if you try to scale up slowly, you may risk losing a few business opportunities.
Once you have your dream business support service running successfully, the sky is the limit. There are limitless possibilities in this field. You can raise funds, add partners, set up international offices, build a global brand etc.
But, it all starts with the first client. So, focus on the same & start lean.
With the aforesaid steps, I have tried my bit to help you with starting a business support service. Still, if you need help then reach out to me.
Further recommended read: How To Build A StartUp From Scratch
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